Returning to exercise postpartum- movement tips for new moms
After nine months of pregnancy, many moms are eager to get back to moving and doing the things they love. Every aspect of life looks different with a baby– including working out. Our movement expert, and physical therapy intern Shula shares her tips and tricks on how to know when you are ready to move again.
How soon after birth can you start exercising again?
While every mom’s journey is different, we typically recommend waiting at least six weeks before starting exercise, unless your healthcare provider says you can start earlier. Many women like to check-in with a pelvic floor physical therapist to get clearance before exercising. If you had a more complicated birth, feel pain, or are concerned about diastasis recti, ask your doctor for a referral to a pelvic floor or maternal health physical therapist.
What are some benefits of doing exercise postpartum?
Promotes Better Sleep
It can be really hard to sleep when you have a new baby in the house. When you do finally get a moment to rest your eyes, exercise can help you
Babies don’t stay tiny forever! Now that you have a little one, expect to be picking them up, carrying them around, and more. Exercise can help you strengthen your muscles to make daily tasks easier, and can also help you strengthen your core to improve posture.
Approximately 1 in 10 women will experience postpartum depression after giving birth (according to PostPartumDepression.org). Exercise can help you boost your mood by increasing levels of endorphins.
What is diastasis recti? How might this impact my exercise routine? Are my abs ripped apart?
Every new mom should get checked to see if she has diastasis recti. The connective tissues between your abdominal muscles widen (typically in the second or third trimester). In some women, the abdominal muscles separate from being stretched while carrying the baby. After delivery, most woman’s abdomen heals- although others may have a gap in their abdominals due to the area being overstretched.
To check yourself for diastasis recti, check above and under your belly button for separation and or tension. If you are concerned that you may have this, speak to a doctor, or pelvic health specialist to get tested. A pelvic floor physical therapist can help you let your body heal, and learn how to do proper exercises and breathwork to help your body feel its best
Can you exercise while breastfeeding?
Most pregnant and postpartum mothers experience something called ligamentous laxity. This means that your connective tissue and ligaments are a bit looser than they are normally. This mechanism is what helps you give birth, but it can also make it easier to injure yourself.
When can I have sex again after giving birth?
While every case is different, it is typically safe to have sex after your 6-week check-in. A lot of women prefer to get an internal pelvic exam by their healthcare provider to get reassurance and address any other concerns you may be having. If you are scared that sex will cause pain, feel vaginal discomfort, or are not in the mood for sex- working with a pelvic floor physical therapist can help you address all of those concerns. They can teach you pain management techniques, address the source of your pain, and also teach you about the pelvic organs and arousal. Working with a pelvic floor physical therapist will allow you to feel more comfortable and confident in the bedroom.
Are Kegels good for me?
When it comes to post-partum exercise, there is no blanket movement routine that works for everyone. While you’ve probably heard a million times “try Kegels” they might not work for a number of reasons. Kegels work to strengthen the muscles of your pelvic floor. If your muscles are tight, and you try to strengthen them, you might not be activating the muscle. Working with a movement expert will help you make sure that your body is in a relaxed state to make sure that you are getting the most out of your workout.
Post-Partum Movement Routine
Here are some basic exercises you can try as you begin your journey back to movement! If any of these exercises cause you pain, or you are concerned about moving- please see a healthcare provider.
Squeeze your glutes and press your pelvis up into the air
Release and repeat
Place a ball between your knees
Use your thigh muscles to squeeze the ball, release, and repeat
Place an exercise band around your knees
Gently push your knees outward and inward to feel the tension
For more movement inspiration, and to meet with one of our women’s health physical therapists, contact us here.